Solving the farm transition Rubik’s Cube
You may be tired of hearing about succession planning, so we’ve made the conscious decision in this special edition to reference transition, rather than succession, in most instances.
Words matter. Most farm businesses are in a steady state of transition. They’re growing and/or doing something different, or the people involved are taking different roles. When you hear “succession” it implies the older generation is retiring. When you say “transition,” it doesn’t necessarily have that connotation.
Whether you call it transition or succession, there are many aspects to consider. I enjoyed a presentation by Jonathan Small of MNP’s Red Deer, Alta., office some time ago where he compared the whole process to solving a Rubik’s Cube.
The three-dimensional puzzle has six sides and each side has nine coloured stickers. The idea is to manipulate the cube so that each of the six sides ends up one solid colour.
You might be able to solve one side, but solving all the sides simultaneously is quite a trick. It’s very much like solving a transition puzzle.
You might need a plan that simultaneously keeps the farm going as a viable entity, provides retirement income for the outgoing generation, minimizes any tax burden and occurs within legal parameters, all while maintaining family harmony.
Financial planning experts, accountants, lawyers and lenders may all have a role in solving their particular area, but a solution on one side of the Rubik’s Cube might throw one or more of the other sides out of whack.
In truth, you know when you’ve solved a Rubik’s Cube. A transition plan is always a work in progress and seldom will be perfect.